Arinc buy to beef up Rockwell's commercial business

Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:47pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Rockwell Collins (COL.N: Quote), which is looking to opportunities in the commercial market as its defense business comes under pressure, is buying Arinc, an aerospace communications company, for $1.39 billion.

Rockwell, a supplier of avionics and other electronic systems for airplanes, said the purchase from Carlyle Group LP (CG.O: Quote) would enable it to expand sales as newer airplanes are equipped with information-management systems for the flight deck and cabin.

Annapolis, Maryland-based Arinc designs systems that help airline pilots communicate with the ground. It also provides transport communications and systems for defense, government, healthcare and other sectors.

Rockwell Collins is counting on commercial demand to drive growth as the United States curbs defense spending. As of its most recent quarterly earnings report, Rockwell Collins sales were roughly split 51 percent-49 percent between government sales and commercial sales.

"We're definitely ... going to shift from overweight in defense to an overweight in commercial, and we want to accelerate that, given the challenges we have in the defense market," Kelly Ortberg, who assumed the CEO job at Rockwell Collins from longtime executive Clay Jones this month, said in an interview on Monday.

Arinc will allow Rockwell Collins "to provide a broader set of solutions to our customers in moving digital information from the airplane to the ground and back," Ortberg said.

He said the growth opportunities the purchase brings Rockwell were akin to the new capabilities a home acquires when it gets Internet access.

"We have long looked at the Arinc aviation business as a great opportunity for us," Ortberg added.

For Rockwell, those opportunities include providing information tied to plane maintenance and security, passenger operations and other services.   Continued...